Everyone likes giving or receiving kisses. It could be a spouse, child, or loved one, but are there any dental health dangers associated with kissing? With just one kiss, you can share over 500 different types of disease causing germs and viruses. Not knowing who you are kissing could be as dangerous to your health as having multiple sexual partners. What are the benefits, aside from the obvious?
Common Diseases and Viruses Transmitted By Kissing
-Cold Sores – This type of sore is caused by the herpes virus (family of diseases that causes Epstein-Barr, chickenpox, or herpes simplex). Cold sores appear as tiny, clear, fluid filled blisters that form around the mouth and lips. This type of sore is highly contagious. This is especially true while the sores are open and leaking fluids. Even sores that have formed scabs can be contagious.
-Upper respiratory tract infections - like colds can easily spread through a kiss. If you feel a cold or flu virus coming on you should avoid kissing. Many different viruses are responsible for causing the common cold. Colds are believed to be spread by direct contact with the virus. You can catch a cold from airborne droplets or from direct contact with secretions (fluids and mucous) from the infected person’s nose and throat.
-Mononucleosis (also called Glandular Fever) – This is called the “kissing disease” for a reason! It is easily transmitted to others through kissing, as well as sharing food, a cup, or even a straw.
-Hepatitis B – this may be transferred via kissing but it is quite rare, but it is transferable through saliva. Hepatitis B shows up in far higher levels in the blood than in the saliva. If the person you are kissing has bleeding gums (from periodontal disease), it will be even more likely to be transmitted through the mucous membranes (mouth, tongue, and gums).
-Tooth Decay – The bacteria that cause tooth decay are not found in the mouths of babies at birth. A baby’s mouth must be colonized with infected saliva, which can be passed by a kiss on the lips from Mommy or Daddy.
-Periodontal Disease – It is possible to pass the bacteria responsible for periodontal disease through kissing.
Even with all the potential dangers listed above, kissing does have some major benefits.
-Increased Salivary Flow - During the act of kissing, the salivary glands get stimulated. This releases increased saliva into the mouth. Saliva is mostly water but also contains electrolytes, sodium, proteins, and digestive enzymes. These digestive enzymes not only help in digesting food but also in resiting the attacks o viruses and bacteria. Saliva naturally guards our teeth. Saliva also contains the nutrients calcium and fluoride, which help re-mineralize any sort of injury on your tooth’s enamel.
-Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder Treatment - The physical action of kissing someone effects more than 34 different muscles in your face. Those with soreness within the TM joints at times notice that kissing helps to loosen up the jaw bone, the tongue and other muscular areas within the mouth area. Unstrained muscle groups can sort out any discomfort which is being a result of TMJ issues.
-Increased Immunity Strength – Kissing causes individuals to transfer antibodies from one to another. These antibodies may be new to you and thus will strengthen your immune system. Nevertheless, if you know someone is ill, it’s wise to try to keep from kissing them until finally they are healed.
-Improved Mood - kissing releases nature’s antidepressant, oxytocin. Kissing does not just increase the production of feel good chemicals in our bodies, it also lowers our cortisol and cholesterol levels, too.
-Increased Metabolism - During a really passionate kiss, a person can burn anywhere from 2-5 calories per minute. This is double your normal resting rate. Over an hour of kissing can lead you to burn almost 200 calories. While you should not rely on kissing to help you lose a significant amount of weight, it might give your metabolism an extra boost and help shed a pound or two.
The negative effects of kissing should not keep you from kissing your loved ones, but you should be sure to maintain your oral health to keep up your dental and physical health.
-Use sugar free chewing gum, preferably with xylitol.
-Only kiss someone if you know where he or she has been.
We love to kiss those we care about. We need to remember to protect them as well as ourselves by being clean and healthy. Be smart about who you kiss and enjoy yourself!